IDC Has Plan to Get European Supercomputing Back on Track

By Tiffany Trader

October 27, 2010

Back in February, market research firm IDC announced that it had been tapped by the European Commission to assist in developing an HPC strategy for Europe. The final results of that study were recently made public and some of the key recommendations were revealed in an article over at IT PRO.

In their final report, the IDC analysts recommended the following:

…The EU needs to create and implement a far-reaching vision for high-performance computing (HPC) leadership, and suggests that it be based on this vision: Providing world-class HPC resources to make EU scientists, engineers, and analysts the most productive and innovative in the world in applying HPC to advance their research in the pursuit of scientific advancement and economic growth.

The first page of the report outlines primary objectives with specific action steps:

The results of this plan could provide immense improvements to the EU by 2020:

  • Europe would be recognized as the hotbed for new science and engineering research and innovation.
  • The plan would preserve existing jobs and create many new jobs in both science and industry, and cause national economies to grow faster.

To succeed, it will require many investments, actions, and strong leadership, including implementation of these high-level actions:

  • Expand the number, size, and access to HPC resources across the EU.
  • Create a set of HPC exascale development lab/testbed centers.
  • Attract more students into scientific, engineering, and HPC fields, and to attract more experts from around the world to join EU scientific collaborations.
  • Invest in developing next-generation exascale software.
  • Target a few strategic application areas for global leadership.

As outlined in the IT PRO article, if Europe is to become a global center of excellence for supercomputing with the ability to compete on the global stage, European authorities will need to expand access to supercomputers.

According to Earl Joseph, IDC’s program vice president for HPC and co-author of the study:

“The cost and complexity of the next generation of HPC systems mean that Europe must be selective in its investments. The proposed strategy exploits Europe’s existing strengths, including advanced software development, and could help make Europe the world leader in areas that will be crucial for global economic competitiveness in the 21st century.”

In order to do meet its objectives, the European Commission will need to strengthen investment in high performance computing (HPC) through 2020. Capitalizing on its already established scientific and industrial expertise could turn Europe into the world leader in specific disciplines, relayed the IDC analysts.

An IDC report noted that Europe’s investment in HPC had fallen behind compared to other leading countries. From 2007 to 2009, its share of worldwide investment in HPC declined from 34 percent to 25 percent. The significance of this statistic can be found in the fact that HPC development is closely aligned with scientific and industrial competitiveness.

The final IDC report recommended a pooling of resources among EU countries since no individual European country could realistically compete with the US, Japan and South Korea.

The Recommendations Report, titled “A Strategic Agenda for European Leadership in Supercomputing: HPC 2020 — IDC Final Report of the HPC Study for the DG Information Society of the European Commission,” can be downloaded here (PDF).

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